Saturday, November 29, 2008

Team update, 11/29

On Friday, Patrick, Danny, Joey and Paul worked on missions and some tournament practice. Patrick and Danny tried very hard to make the transition from Andrew's to Patrick & Trevor's programs reliable, but there was too much uncertainty. It's been a hard day for me thinking about it since I could not see how to keep "pattrev" (Patrick and Trevor's mission) in the competition, and I would like to see all of the missions tried in Batavia.

"Danjoe" (Danny and Joey's) and "mn" (Mike and Nate's) missions rely on Andrew's to clear the table. Mike and Andrew returned from their vacation today and had a marathon with the robots. Andrew figured out a way of re-aligning, allowing pattrev to run reliably, choosing to not grab the computer to do so. He also captured the carbon and brought it to base, then pushing all the balls out to storage at once (they were not making it there reliably before. Michael sort of got the ice core captured but ran out of time. It may have been a low battery but it looks like we may have to ditch the ice core. He did make a mechanical improvements, including supporting the cargo arm without making the robot "active", which would have been breaking the rules.

Danny re-ran Danjoe, with the carbon balls in the way. This was to simulate the absence of running the Andrew program. He did this before knowing Andrew would fix the transition to pattrev. This work was important to help make the decision to get those balls out of the way (always run "Mission 1"). He also tweaked the program slightly to avoid a hangup on the levee tester.

Paul debugged a lot of issues with the robot and fixed some reliability issues in the program. The light sensor was not mounted properly and it need mechnical rebuild for his ramp mechanism as was done on the robot used for previous testing. He also reworked the end of his program and reliably makes it to the research area. Still a minor bug to test but it looks good.

Ballpark timing, with no transition time (for changing implements):
Mission Group max pts time
Group 1 (Andrew + Pattrev + Carbon) 110 1:10
Group 2 (Danjoe) 50 0:09
Group 3 (MN) 65 0:51 (less if no ice core for 30 pts.)
Group 4 (fludpt) 70 0:31 (0 or 1 pointer - tbd for 2 or 3)
Total: 295 2:41

From last year we know that transitions can take a significant amount of the time, especially since they are less practiced this year. Realistically, we can run no more than 3 missions. With that in mind, it looks like our best core will be around 200 of the possible 400 points. We will discuss all of this at the next meeting.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Team Update, 11/27/2008

The team did a run-through on the project on Wed. and it was pretty good. A few more practices and they've got it. We need to also practice them carrying and setting up all the stuff, as if they were at the tournament.

Both robot teams worked on missions and Joey put together an outline for the technical presentation. They've gotten the 4 mission groups mostly working, but are over the time limit and they haven't practiced transitions between groups (swapping implements, loading/unloading payloads, finding the right buttons. With the time left in the season they will not be as practiced as last year. They will do fine, but the more practice, the better.

We've also had trouble moving programs to a common computer. The NXT software has lots of bugs in the myBlocks (robot subroutines). When moving them among computers, they don't always make the trip in tact. Hours were spent on Paul's myBlock when he moved from the desktop to the laptop - and the fix was not intuitive.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Team Update, 11/25/2008

Project: The team has finished their project research and is meeting for a full run-through Wed., 11/26 at 11-12:00, including scenery and special effects. Andrew, Joey Nate and Paul have speaking parts and are arriving at 10:30 for a pre-run.

Robot: Monday and Tuesday we had the robot jockeys finishing missions, practicing and timing. Like last year, we'll have to cut some missions and practice a lot to get it within the 2.5 minutes.

Teamwork: Nate almost has the bio board finished. Joey started a technical presentation. This evening, Danny, Michael, Nate and Paul went to meet with the other Naperville team, "Lego Crushers". It's a group of 5 3rd and 4th grade girls. They have a front pusher implement on a tri-bot. The boys pointed out some ways to make it more reliable (exchange a slider for the caster, use 1-wheel turns) and how to easily get more points (push in the carbon ball near base, trigger the levee tester, leave the robot in the yellow area, make sure both insulation pieces touch the mat). Paul showed their technical coach how to find a line, described how to find it twice to get more accuracy and why to use wheel brakes.

As always, lots to do at the end.

Go Supernova!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Team Update

We've had a few meetings since the last post, so this a catch-up.

The project is going really well. The research is finished and the boys are well into their presentation, which is a puppet show. They've built a web site, written a script for the show and have started to rehearse.

During the Teamwork part of the meeting, they are working on anything that helps the team. Bios, presentation boards, building props for the project, or doing general robot work. It's working great.

The boys have been doing extra robot work on the side after school and on weekends to get their missions finished. They are testing 2 robots and most of the missions are working. They're finding them to be more difficult than last year.

Videos will be posted as missions are completed.

Go Supernova!